Can Texas A&M repeat the success of its first year in the SEC? Will the Aggies be able to so what no one has been able to pull off in the modern era…defeat defending national champion Alabama for a second straight season? It’s our 2013 Texas A&M Football preview…
2013 Texas A&M Football Preview
Texas A&M had a remarkable 2012 season. Will the Aggies be as good in their second season in the SEC? Find out in our 2013 Texas A&M Football Preview.[/caption]
After one of the most surprising performances in NCAA football history, there’s no doubt that this year’s Texas A&M Aggies squad will have a huge target on their backs. Much like with the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Aggies’ opponents will prepare for them more than they do other teams and will work extra hard to beat the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. But against one of the most prolific offenses in the land, designing a theoretical gameplan for the Aggies is one thing. Executing it is another.
When talking about the Aggies offense, it starts and ends with the only freshmen to ever win the Heisman. Johnny Manziel is now a sophomore, and will now enter his second year with a better idea of how his offense works. And although the argument can be made that teams now know what to look for, Manziel is only beginning to learn the ins and outs of college football. Hence, he’ll likely be no easier to prepare for in 2013. Johnny Football accounted for over 5,000 yards last season, and now that Kevin Sumlin has beefed up the talent surrounding Manziel, though it’s hard to imagine, that number could improve drastically. This spring Sumlin touched on Manziels ability to read defenses and how it has improved in the off-season.
If this is true, Manziel would in theory be able to counter almost any defense with a high probability of success. Johnny will always have his mobility, but as he improves his aerial attack, Texas A&M will have a legitimate shot at the final BCS Championship Game…at least as long as Johnny Manziel is in uniform.
If Manziel were to play without a capable supporting cast, that team would probably win six or seven games. But with the Aggies’ roster, the only teams that will be able to challenge them will be Alabama, Georgia, and maybe a South Carolina. From top to bottom, this offensive unit is absolutely loaded with explosive talent at every position. One quick look at their depth chart will say it all.
For starters, Johnny Manziel will get to play one more season with his favorite receiver, Mike Evans. Almost six-and-a-half feet tall, it’s easy to imagine how Evans could lead the Aggies in receiving yards. But, much like Manziel, Evans has limited experience and is getting better with time. As Evans learns how to body-up against much smaller cornerbacks, his size and speed give Manziel a very easy target downfield.
Speaking of size, many would think Evans would be the tallest receiver on the roster. But at 6’7″, JUCO transfer Cameron Clear will have that title. A hair over 270 pounds, Clear is the quintessential new-age tight end. Of course, Cameron will be a huge red zone threat; his size makes him hard to miss. But Clear will really be able to help the Aggies in their protection schemes after losing one of the best offensive tackles of his class in Luke Joeckel. Clear’s strength and size are similar to that of a slightly undersized lineman, and his blocking ability will greatly aid in the rushing game of Johnny Manziel as well as the pocket protection, the one weakness of the team this season.
But Clear and company will be doing more than just blocking for Manziel, but also Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams. With similarities to that of an Adrian Peterson, Williams has the tools needed to be great. With a keen sense of working his way into the secondary, his success will make defenses stack the box. The problem is, the Aggies can easily handle a blitz by passing, having Manziel scramble, or have Williams sweep to the outside.
Manziel and Williams should complement each other well this year as the Aggies will be able to gain yards any way they see fit. A defense’s best option will be able to limit the success of the Texas A&M offense with an exceptional defensive line that can pressure Manziel by themselves.
With so much offensive firepower this season, it’s obvious that the defensive side of the ball isn’t going to live up to the same hype. Built to rush the passer, this Aggies defense has great blitzers in linebacker Nate Askew and defensive lineman Tyrell Taylor. When both defenders line up on the same side of the ball, it’s virtually a guarantee that one of them will force their way to the quarterback. The problem with the Aggie defense is, when these blitzers can’t hit the quarterback, they simply don’t have the secondary to cover receivers effectively. If Manziel were to face his own defense, he would rip them to shreds.
The real question is whether this Texas A&M team can win without a great defense…something that isn’t commonplace in the SEC.
With the exception of Auburn, the BCS champions of late have all had stellar defenses. So it remains to be seen whether a team can sustain wins without being able to consistently stop their opponent. Cam Newton did it. But if Manziel is really worth all the hype, and can win them all (not just a big game here and there), the Aggies will be contenders. But if the sophomore slump is real for this Heisman winner, Texas A&M may be left wishing they never joined the toughest conference in college football.
Thanks for checking out our 2013 Texas A&M Football Preview. We continue our look at other SEC teams on Monday with a preview of Florida.
—Special to the Capstone Report by Alex DeRemer.